Planning to head out to the woods above the maddening din of the city's grind? Check out Aamod Resort in Shoghi near Shimla. Now that's a real hill station.

I never miss a chance to escape into hilly green getaways. So this time when I wanted to explore mountains I decided to head for the rustic beauty of Himachal.

While the first name that comes to mind is the British colonial destination of Shimla, stop and look around you. Right at Shimla's doorstep is Shoghi, a small town, which offers you much more.

You may wonder what's so special. Well, the place provides a perfect eco-friendly and scenic beauty, thanks to Aamod Resort, nestled in the middle of a dense forest. Without chopping a single tree, or disturbing the natural beauty, 16 well done cottages made of local wood and mud exteriors offer a plethora of views to gaze upon.

Whether it is the oldest toy train track, exotic birds, trekking or an Ayurvedic spa to de-stress, it has everything. All the cottages are on various levels of the mountain and you might feel like trekking inside the resort itself.

Silent and beautiful

To get to your own cottage either from the restaurant (built in colonial style and offering regional and international flavours) or from the spa is a tedious affair, as you have to walk through a blend of forest and mountain.

“We tried to build the cottages only in the open spaces. So we built wherever we found land around the trees. The land belongs to the Forest Department so we are supposed to preserve the natural beauty,” says Gaurav Jain, Managing Director.

Unlike cities where we set our own alarms, here it is the whistle of Shimla's mountain train that wakes you up, though it is bewildering initially. It passes by slowly, deep down in the valley full of rare vegetation.

Sunrays peep through tall trees and beam straight into your wooden abode making your skin glow. Beautiful butterflies tempt kids to run after them; exotic flowers beckon you to pose with them.

If the day holds these many attractions, the nights are mesmerising. To those used to the city buzz, the silence can be a bit haunting but a campfire is the perfect antidote. The dim lights hanging on the trees at a distance lead you to take a slow walk post-dinner. The nocturnal jungle sounds are scary but the calm atmosphere around the resort is reassuring.

For those die hard Shimla fans, who have seen their pristine abode turn into a slum and a civic nightmare, Shoghi is the best alternative. It's just a 30 minute drive away, so when you're done with the Mall Road and shopping, hire a cab back to your base camp, the real Hill station: Shoghi.

How to get there

Air: The Jubbarhatti Airport at Shimla is 33 km from Shoghi. Shimla is well connected to Delhi, though the flights depend on weather conditions.

Rail: The nearest broad gauge station is at Kalka. From Kalka, the climb up to Shoghi takes one and a half hours. Alternatively, take the world heritage toy train from Kalka and get down at Shoghi. Aamod is a five-minute drive from Shoghi.

Road: From Delhi take NH1 to Ambala. From Ambala take the road to Chandigarh upto Zirakpur, then get on to NH 22 towards Kalka. Shoghi is around 75 km from Kalka (a two-hour drive). Shoghi is well connected to Delhi, Chandigarh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab by bus.

Climate: Pleasant summers and cold winters. In peak winters, the place experiences mild snowfall. If you are travelling between November and March, carry heavy woollens.

Where it is

Aamod at Shoghi (Shimla)

Village Shahlaghat, P.O. Kaithlighat,

Tehsil Kandaghat, District Solan,

Himachal Pradesh 173215

Ph: 0177-6532020




Sunday MagazineJune 28, 2012